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Ireland's Conor Murray admits to Twickenham 'fear factor'

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Conor Murray has admitted Ireland harbour a "fear factor" about facing England at Twickenham.

Ireland could field just a maximum of eight players who have previously tasted victory at Twickenham in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash. British and Irish Lions scrum-half Murray does not number among them, but still believes Joe Schmidt's side can spring a first Twickenham triumph since 2010 this weekend.

"England away especially is a huge task; there is a fear factor among players about going there," said Murray. "I have never won there and there are a lot of players in the squad who have never won there but we have come close.

"We performed well against them last year in the Six Nations, so there is a mix of fear but also quite a bit of excitement."

Of Joe Schmidt's current squad only captain Rory Best, prop Cian Healy, Leinster hooker Sean Cronin and number eight Jamie Heaslip featured among the forwards when Ireland last won at Twickenham, a 20-16 victory in 2010.

Fly-half Johnny Sexton, wings Andrew Trimble and Keith Earls and scrum-half Eoin Reddan complete the roster of those available this weekend who featured in that Twickenham triumph six years ago. Ireland pushed England close in a 13-10 defeat in 2014, en route to the first of their two consecutive Six Nations titles.

Munster scrum-half Murray believes head coach Schmidt's men must raise their game considerably to stand a chance of victory this weekend.

"I know it's going to be a big task, a huge task and a challenge," said Murray. "You're going to have to play really, really well to have a chance of winning over there and I'm sure, if you ask any other player, it's going to be the same for them.

"It's England away, it's highlighted a bit more, there's a bit more hype about it and the players feel that too. You prepare accordingly also."

Reigning double champions Ireland relinquished control of the Six Nations title with a 10-9 defeat to France in Paris on Saturday, February 13, following their 16-16 draw with Wales in Dublin. Boss Schmidt's men must defeat Eddie Jones' England to stand any chance of an unprecedented third-straight Six Nations crown, but Murray insisted no-one in the Ireland camp is considering the wider championship picture.

"If you take your eye off the ball, if you go over to England and you're not prepared they could really give you a hammering," said Murray. "So we're really focused on going over and performing.

"That's not a line we're told to say, it is actually that tough to go over there and perform. That's our sole focus. Twickenham is a great stadium. The bus ride in is amazing and it's a great buzz.

"But it's more that the English team at home is a really strong unit and hard to break down. It was 13-10 the last time we played them and it was a really tough Test match.

"That's the confidence side on our behalf - we know we can go over there and push them close so that's how we're going to approach this week. With Eddie Jones in charge they seem a confident group. They will be fully confident they can get a victory against us. They are playing with a lot of freedom and look quite threatening."